Bank reaches birthday milestone early

Keeley Mahoney, Melissa Handbury, Bruce Argyle and Julie Kugler at Lyrebird College

A major milestone for Healesville Community Bank will see an unexpected boost to student resources at Lyrebird College when the school opens in 2021.

Lyrebird College, which will provide education for young people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is the bank’s 2000th customer.

Bank Chair, Bruce Argyle, said reaching the magic 2000 was one of the goals set by the board in the lead up to the bank’s 10th birthday celebrations in February next year.

“We are thrilled not only to have the support of Lyrebird College as a customer, but to share the excitement of reaching a significant milestone with such an outstanding community organisation,” Mr Argyle said.

He said Lyrebird College was a perfect fit with Healesville Community Bank as a community driven and operated enterprise.

Presenting a cheque for $1000 to Lyrebird College founder and chairperson, Melissa Handbury, and inaugural principal Julie Kugler, Mr Argyle and Community Bank Manager, Keeley Mahoney, had the opportunity to look over the school on 7 September.

Plans for Lyrebird College began in earnest four years ago with generous philanthropic support, a dedicated volunteer board and land provided by Yarra Ranges Council.

“We’re very fortunate to be in the education precinct with Coldstream Primary School, preschool, maternal health centre and community centre,” Ms Handbury said.

The initial enrolment will be 14 students in lower and upper primary level with the potential in the future to cater for 36 students.

Ms Kugler said Lyrebird College was about celebrating the strengths of their students and providing pathways.

“That pathway might be employment, but it could be further training, participation in community programs or accessing assistance that is out there to engage in life.”

“It’s about more than the education,” Ms Kugler explained. “It’s about the setting they will be part of – a very nurturing, considerate, joyful and fun place to be where their successes will be celebrated.”

A strong education curriculum will also be in place.

“We need to have that nurturing, admiring safe place for our students, but also need to push them in their academic skills and their daily social, communication and living skills as well.”

Ms Handbury and Ms Kugler said it was exciting to be part of Healesville Community Bank’s milestone achievement and thanked the bank for the $1000 donation which will go towards reading resources.

“We’re excited to be acknowledged by the Healesville Bendigo Bank and to know that the work that’s been undertaken is appreciated by the community,” Ms Kugler said.

“These community partnerships contribute to a deeper understanding of ASD in the wider community as well, and that’s really important.”

Mr Argyle said a new goal had now been set. “Given we now have 2000 locals banking with our Community Bank, what will it take to see 2500?”

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